How to Write a Good CV
A CV (curriculum vitae), also known as a resume, is basically a summary of your academic and work history. Though there is a slight difference between the two, normally the terms CV and resume are used synonymously. This document is your introduction to your potential employer, so if you are interested in getting that job, you must pay serious attention on writing a good CV.
What Should Be Included in a CV?
A CV is usually organized into different sections. These sections may include:
- Job experience
- Research experience
- Affiliations with different organizations
You can certainly include sections that are not on this list.
Prepare to Write a CV
However, crafting a quality resume involves more than simply putting all the above information onto a piece or two of paper. There are several things to consider when writing CVs.
Before you start writing, make sure that you have written down all related info under the sections mentioned above. Do not forget to add other categories relevant to you. For example while brainstorming for education, you should include all your degrees/certificates, the colleges/universities you attended and the grade you scored. Do not forget to write the dates of completion. These dates matter to your potential employer. Once you have jotted down all information go to the next step.
Tailor Your CV According to the Requirements of Job
What is your employer looking for? Is the position a sales role or something research-oriented? One job requires that you are a good speaker and can communicate extremely well, while for the other, it is not that important.
With this example, I want to highlight the fact that a CV must be tailored according to the requirements of the job you are applying for. You don't need to change the information you include—you just need to present the information to highlight the skills your employer desires.
In light of the above example, if you are targeting the sales job, you will be required to write more about your communication skills—the presentations, speeches, etc. you have given in the past. On the other hand, if you are going for a research-oriented job, you will be expected to give more detailed information about your research publications, their scope and methodology, etc.
While tailoring your CV to every job you apply for may seem cumbersome, it is well worth the effort. I myself have a folder full of several versions of CVs on my computer. I have seen a big difference in the responses I get from an employer for CVs written in different styles.
Additionally, the order of your sections is important. For example, if you're applying to a place that despises researchers, it is a good idea to put your list of research publications at the end of the resume or simply omit it (seriously). I had an experience where an interviewer told me, after looking at my research publications, that I appeared to be too much of an academic and they were not interested in me despite of the fact that I had relevant experience.
You may wonder how it is possible to determine the liking and disliking of an interviewer. My answer would be that it is learnt through experience. Learn from your experience.
Below I provide some sample CVs. Observe the different formats/layouts of these CVs. If you are using Microsoft Word, you can find several built-in templates to choose from.
Use these samples to identify different possible sections you may want to use. The first sample is of a fresh candidate applying for an industrial job. Note that the candidate has given priority to job experience even though he only has a few months' worth.
The second sample is of an experienced person applying for a research position. See how the list of publications, thesis, and other projects precede the job experiences.